Lent: Lessons To Learn From Ash Wednesday


Lent: Lessons To Learn From Ash Wednesday
Starting over on a goal is usually depressing but Ash Wednesday teaches us to celebrate instead!

“Remember that you are dust and to dust, you shall return.” This Biblical verse is one that many hear during an Ash Wednesday service, marking the beginning of Lent. It is commonly said as ashes are placed on their forehead. For those involved, this is a powerful reminder of our mortality and the need for both confession and repentance.

Creating a new start in our own lives is very similar. A new start is most likely to succeed if we start by setting aside the old and the things we have not done the way we should. The beginning of Lent can be a time of a new start but the lessons of this season can be applied anytime. Preparing for this can be important, however, when it is starting over again, Ash Wednesday teaches us another important lesson. 6 Steps To Avoid Temptation: Lessons From Shrove Tuesday


Another phrase heard during the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday is, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” While the first part of this phrase talks about the repentance and setting up to avoid doing what is wrong in the future, the last part is part of the gift of Ash Wednesday. For Christians celebrating this day, they are reminded of the way that the Gospel has been steady. What will be celebrated in the new life, when living as they should , that was part of the promise before needing to restart. That promise is not dead and can be reclaimed.

In fact, part of the process of reclaiming the promise is to remember the joy, the celebration and the original promise. Aside from Ash Wednesday, for you, is this about being on a path to lose weight, to be in healthier relationships, to work on your education or to stop smoking? When you first started moving that way, you celebrated the idea of where you were going to end up. You celebrated the promise of where your journey would be leading. 10 Steps To Connect With Your Spirituality While Depressed

Similarly, each year Christians celebrate the full set of promises with shouts of “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday which is the proclamation of their king. The joy and hopes are expressed in the use of palms in worship. Those very palms are then burnt to make the ashes to be administered on Ash Wednesday. The very ability to restart, the very acts of penance is rooted in the original celebration. There the ability to start over finds its root. In doing so, each person is able to get back to shouting “Hosanna!” at the end of Lent on Palm Sunday.

In your case, your progress towards your promises has not gone the way that you wanted it to go. This does not mean that everything is over. Go back to the promise you celebrated when you started on your journey. Use those very promises to convict yourself for where you have gone wrong and to encourage you to do what you need to do to get back to celebrating the promises of what you need or want to seek. It is possible for you to find wholeness and peace, even when you have stumbled and need to restart. Advice: My Boyfriend Isn't Supporting My Health Goals

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The Rev. Christopher L. Smith

Marriage and Family Therapist

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith, LCAC, LMHC, LMFT has served as a national leader around mental health issues both within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in professional counseling organizations.  He works directly with individuals, couples, families and supervisees as the Clinical Director of Seeking Shalom in New York City.  He also brings his insight to help a wider audience through writing, speaking and consultations.

Location: New York, NY
Credentials: LAC, LMFT, LMHC, MDiv
Specialties: Couples/Marital Issues, Forgiveness, Spiritual
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